Part IV

Part IV

Photos by: Isabella Gong and Jessica Jiamin Lang

Editor’s note, October 28, 2020: The original version of this article contained an error. Amanda Dallas was not credited as one of the co-founders of MLQ. We, at USQ, regret the error. More broadly, this article and others in the history series will be updated to address the lack of diversity in the original text of Quidditch Turns Ten, as well as to more thoroughly discuss quidditch in the past 5 years. Each article will be reviewed and re-released for more inclusivity. Current and past quidditch community members will be invited to contribute to the updated articles, so that we can more accurately tell the story of the past 15 years and include voices that have been missing from the narrative. More information on how to get involved will be available soon. For questions, email info@usquidditch.org. 

What’s next for quidditch?

Every year, the sport gains more mainstream awareness and recognition. In November 2015, World Cup 8 was recognized with the 2015 Sports Travel Award for the Best Single-Sport Collegiate Event, beating out the NCAA Division I football championship, Division II baseball championship, and the Women’s Final Four. World Cup 8 was notable for the introduction of an innovative, if complex, gameplay format, called Swiss, and for its tremendous media impact, due to the tournament trending on Twitter and being seen in one of the first big stories on Snapchat.

“The 2015 Sports Travel Award is a prime example of achieving organizational excellence for communities, competitors, and spectators,” said Joe Pickett, president of OAN Sports Marketing and USQ’s event bidding partner. “This award establishes US Quidditch as one of the premier sports organizations in the world today!”

Increased recognition lead to team growth: in the first weeks of the 2015-2016 season, 30 new teams signed up with US Quidditch. And USQ aimed to spur the sport’s growth even more through the priorities outlined in its first strategic plan.

Photo on the left of Maryland Quidditch vs Lone Star Quidditch Club at Worlc Cup 8 in 2015. On the right side, a photo of the crowd watching the championship match at World Cup 8. Photos by Isabella Gong and Nicole Harrig.

Quidditch was also expanding beyond college and club. Amanda Dallas, formally of the NYU college team and co-founder of the club team the Warriors, and Ethan Sturm, Tufts Quidditch graduate, saw the lack of organized quidditch during the summer as an opportunity, and launched Major League Quidditch in 2015, an elite tryout-based league with teams initially representing eight cities across the Northeast and Midwest.

“I’ve fallen deeply in love with the sport in the last six years,” Ethan said in 2015. “USQ caters to a huge amount of teams well, but I wanted something smaller, where it would be possible to control the regular season, the uniforms, ensure player stats and videos could be released weekly—I wanted to package quidditch into something really presentable to people who love sports but have never had the chance to see quidditch that way.”

Throughout that summer, each MLQ team played three games against every team in their division before facing off in Toledo, Ohio for the championship: a single-elimination bracket and best-of-three final.

“Playing in the inaugural season of Major League Quidditch was an experience I’ll never forget,” said Tad Walters, a Detroit Innovator and beater with the Loyola New Orleans quidditch team during the school year. “Having the opportunity to play with and against so many talented individuals I’ve never had the chance to interact with before helped make me a better player and a better person. Playing with the Innovators will forever be one of the biggest highlights of my life!” 

Major League Quidditch co-founders Amanda Dallas and Ethan Sturm in 2015 at the inagural MLQ championship, called the Benepe Cup. Photo by: Jessica Jiamin Lang.

After the success of the first season, Ethan planned to expand MLQ into the West and Southwest for summer 2016. “It all comes down to the players,” he said. “They bought into a crazy concept that had no precedent of success. They gave their entire summers, practicing during the week and driving 14 hours on the weekends for games. I’ve always been obsessed with sports, and getting the chance to run something like this is only possible because of all the crazy things that have happened in the last ten years—a great tribute to the work everyone has done within the IQA and USQ.”

For Justin Bogart, who has been playing quidditch since joining the Middlebury team in 2006, the prospect of the next ten years is exciting, although it will undoubtedly bring change. From 2015: “I have witnessed the number of quidditch teams go from one to hundreds. I have played for teams in three different regions. Donte Quinine has taken over as executive director of USQ [in September 2015], and while I am scared of change, I am excited for the new perspective he brings to the sport. But most importantly, I am grateful for the countless long lasting friendships I have made with people all over the world. I have gotten to know so many people through quidditch that I will never have to stay in a hotel room again. And while that might be a joke, there’s some truth to it.”

Donte’s tenure with USQ was brief, and he left the organization in December 2015. Veteran player and organizer Sarah Woolsey was appointed interim executive director, having served as the events director for USQ since 2013. Woolsey was hired as the official executive director later in 2016, and remained in her role until fall 2019. In her time as executive director, Sarah executed and refined the organization’s strategic plan, developed an ethical decision making framework, and streamlined the event bidding and management process. She also spearheaded a marked improvement in the quality of USQ’s events.

Membership wise, the most growth took place internationally from 2015 to 2020. Approximately 300 new teams formed outside the United Staes during that time. Attendance at the IQA World Cup went from 7 teams in 2014 to 21 in 2016—and 8 more teams joined for 2018’s international championship. Domestically, membership growth was slow, but USQ made a number of structural changes to support future teams, including a college/club split in the 2017-18 season and a revamping of the club season in the 2019-20 season.

Other notable changes were the first non-US win at an international championship, ever, in 2016, when Australia won the IQA World Cup (though the US recovered and won gold in 2018), and the end of the University of Texas’ three year winning streak at USQ Cup 9, also in 2016, which saw QC Boston take home the top title. Fan attendance at quidditch events also soared, with USQ Cup 11 seeing nearly 2,500 spectators over the course of two days of competition. Major League Quidditch has seen five seasons of semi-pro competition, and is gearing up for a sixth in 2021.

These stories are just the tip of the iceberg. Quidditch has seen incredible transformation over the past five years, both in the US and abroad. Throughout our history, though, one thing hasn’t changed, and that is the community’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity, that people of all genders should have a place on and off the pitch, and that everyone should be supported and uplifted for who they are. These values are shared globally, from Texas to Turkey and from New Zealand to Norway. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new chapter in the sport’s story, one where tournaments are all played virtually and our only interactions are over the internet. Nevertheless, the quidditch community remains passionate about what we’ve all created, together. We are changing the world of sports, one broom at a time, and that’s worth fighting for.

Photos of the US National Team from 2018 in Florence, Italy and the IQA World Cup. Photos by: Miguel Esparza.

Quidditch Turns Ten Coffee Table Book

This limited edition, commemorative coffee table book chronicles the rise of quidditch from the perspective of the organizers, players, and photographers who have shaped the sport into what it is today. Quidditch Turns Ten is a hardcover, 10x13 inch 124-page full-color book, with gold foil on the cover and thick interior pages.

Part III

Part III

Photos by: Kat Ignatova, Kean Goh, and Isabella Gong.

Editor’s note, October 28, 2020: This article and others in the history series will be updated to address the lack of diversity in the original text of Quidditch Turns Ten, as well as to more thoroughly discuss quidditch in the past 5 years. Each article will be reviewed and re-released for more inclusivity. Current and past quidditch community members will be invited to contribute to the updated articles, so that we can more accurately tell the story of the past 15 years and include voices that have been missing from the narrative. More information on how to get involved will be available soon. For questions, email info@usquidditch.org

“And my bracket dies with the first game of the tournament.”

The tweet from Matt Panico, captain of the Steel City Quidditch Club out of Pittsburgh, captured a seminal moment for the sport: Middlebury College would not be attending the sixth annual World Cup after going 0-3 in pool play at the Northeast Regional Championships in 2012.

For the first time, in the 2012-2013 season, regional championships would be used to determine which teams qualified for World Cup VI. It was one of many changes that signaled real strides toward legitimacy as a sport.

At the end of 2011, the IQA contracted with OAN Sports Marketing, a firm based out of Florida that represents sports organizations to city visitor bureaus looking to bring sporting events to their cities. Through OAN’s work, seven cities submitted bids to host IQA events, including Kissimmee, Florida, which won the right to host World Cup VI. That move generated a lot press attention, including from the Atlantic, which interviewed Kissimmee about their choice to submit: “‘We had to put in a competitive bid to host the World Cup,’ said Shelley Maccini, executive director of Experience Kissimmee, a destination marketing firm charged with boosting Kissimmee’s tourism and the IQA’s official partner in hosting World Cup VI. ‘Kissimmee hosts a lot of events, a lot of “normal” sporting events, but we were looking to expand into non-traditional sports, especially those we see as having real growth potential, like quidditch.’”

The IQA also started a referee certification program in 2013, an important step for improving safety in a complex, full contact game. In the first six months after the program was implemented, over 90 head referees earned their certification and staffed over 65 tournaments. The IQA also hired its first paid staff members, two full-time and two part-time employees. This important step for the league, made possible by the inaugural season of the individual membership program, allowed staff to be readily accessible to city partners, volunteers, and members throughout the year.

2014 was a pivotal year for the sport internationally. That summer, the IQA rebranded to become US Quidditch, the national governing body for the sport in the US. A new organization was founded under the old name to serve the international community. Globally, the sport skyrocketed after this point, going from 54 teams outside the US to 370 teams in the 2019-20 season.

Just Married

Newlyweds sporting customized Team USA fan jerseys from the 2012 Summer Games.

Photo by: Megan Atkinson.

QC Boston

QC Boston Beater Sheldon Bostic leads a pre-game chant at World Cup VII in 2014.

Photo by: Michael E. Mason

Snitch is loose

Snitch Racquel Jones holds off seekers Mike Pascutoi and Ramon Gonzales at World Cup VI in 2013.

Photo by: Michael E. Mason.

Sky high view

One of ten fields at World Cup VII, taken from a helicopter.

Photo by: Michael E. Mason.

Opening Ceremonies

Boston University cheers during the opening ceremonies at World Cup VI in 2013.

Photo by: Annie Govekar.

From Michael E. Mason

Photo by Michael E. Mason.

“This is my favorite photo—not a game photo, but a sideline photo. It is Tony Rodriguez of the Lost Boys with water running down his face. This game against BGSU from World Cup VI is widely considered one of the best games played in our sport. I consider World Cup VI the turning point from whimsy to athletics, and in one shot I feel like I was lucky enough to capture it. The intensity, the struggle, and the amazing game that we play—all in one shot.”

From Hannah Lindgren

Photo by: Isabella Gong.

“When I found out that real life quidditch was a ‘thing’ in 2009, I had no idea how much it would impact my life for the better. One fantastic opportunity led to another until, somehow, I was chosen to lead World Cup VI. I could not have been prouder or more excited to usher in a new era of World Cup experiences for the International Quidditch Association players and teams. I spent a year meeting with some of the most capable, warm, funny humans planning the event, which would turn out to be equal parts terrifying and rewarding.

“There are so many moments from that week that are still so prominent in my memory, but here are just a few: shedding a few tears after seeing the IQA flag flying on the morning of the first day, being eerily calm and confident with my team doing their various things, having my family there running the hospitality booth and staff security (and for hugs), golf cart races with Hospitality Director Hilary Jarman to let off some steam, and seeing the IQA logo projected onto the entrance of Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios for the afterparty at the end of a loooong weekend.

“I credit the International Quidditch Association and World Cup VI for bringing SO MUCH good to my life. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments and one of the best experiences of my life.”

From Isabella Gong

Photos by: Isabella Gong.

“I was already a photographer before quidditch. It was only natural that when I started playing—and quidditch was my maiden sport—I would start taking photos as well. After volunteering at World Cup VI, I joined the then-IQA as a staff photographer and the rest is history. Working under Michael E. Mason and our team of dedicated quidditch photographers, sacrificing our personal lives to document the biggest tournament of the year, has been a great exprience. If I could make a stable living off quidditch photography, I would, but even if I couldn’t, I would do it anyway.”

From Mollie Lensing

Photo by: Sam Medney.

“My favorite experience as a quidditch player was being selected for Team USA in 2012 and competing during the Olympic torch relay ceremony. It was one of the most humbling moments of my life to be at that event surrounded by other amazing athletes and realize that I was a part of a small group of people that were the best at a sport. It was also at that event that I saw the true potential for quidditch, due to the explosion of international growth in such a short time. And despite all the growth of quidditch at that point, I still knew it was only the beginning. Reflecting now on my six years of being a part of this sport I realize how special it is that so many of us can say we have helped impact the sport and the direction it will go in the next ten years.”

From Tegan Bridge

Photo by: Janet Hoffar.

“Quidditch has become a major part of my identity since I got involved five years ago.

I started uOttawa Quidditch in November 2010 with Clare Hutchinson and Deirdre Walters and since then the team has grown to a club made up of two competitive teams, recreational players, and non-players who just love the sport. That’s one of the best parts about being involved, the community. It’s inclusive and the people are wonderful. I met most of my closest friends in university through quidditch. I met my boyfriend of three years, Steven, at uOttawa Quidditch’s very first practice, which was in knee-deep snow in -25C weather at Carleton. We were all bundled in snowsuits, truding through the snow, playing this game that some people weren’t sure really existed. It was so much fun. Steven wore a Pook Toque.

“Canadian Quidditch faces a lot of challenges that the sport doesn’t really face elsewhere: a small population density, harsh winters, huge distances between established teams, and a well-established league immediately to the South. That said, they are challenges we’re rising to meet. There are so many new teams being formed every year and so many new people learning to play quidditch every season. Quidditch Canada is a young organization and just finished its first season, but it’s growing. As long as our players are passionate about this sport, what’s a little snow?”

From Kedzie Teller

Photo by: Kean Goh.

“What I find so wonderful about quidditch is the way it brings together vastly different communities. There are the hardcore athletes who play for the glory of winning, the passionate literary buffs who want to live out the amazing experiences they imagined while reading, and everyone in between. Being such an inclusive sport, people who play quidditch have an opportunity to meet and learn from so many people they may have never otherwise come in contact with. It’s a special thing when something can bring people together under a common bond, and quidditch has done that since the very beginning.

“For me, quidditch has always primarily been a place to satiate my competitive drive. Since my very first practice on the lawns of Boston University, I knew I found something special, and I was determined to help quidditch grow and be recognized as a legiti- mate and challenging sport. I look back at all I’ve accomplished both on and off the field and it’s funny to think that seven years ago I would never have even considered playing something born in the pages of Harry Potter. But now, here I am, completely and helplessly in love with quidditch, and while I know I don’t have a lot of years left playing, I also know it’s something that will always be a part of me.

“I look back over the last six years and there are so many moments that I could pin as my absolute favorite. From championship victories, to being se- lected for Team USA, I have a lot to be proud of, but my favorite memory is not one that took place on the field. Instead, I think my favorite moment will always be after my last game as a BU Terrier. When the snitch was pulled and we were defeated, I lowered my head and began to cry; not because we lost, but because my journey with the team that began my quidditch career was over. Before I could pull my face from my hands, I felt myself being surrounded by teammates, and when I looked up my entire squad had rushed the field to hug me and show their support. Their kindness in that moment is something I will never forget and helps remember that no matter where the sport takes me, it all started at BU.”

From Crystal Hutcheson

Photo by: Alex Gates.

“Being part of the creative team that pushes the design aesthetic for the most unique sport in the world has its own twists, challenges and perks! Each year’s Cup design has been a true team effort. Each one ends up taking on a life of its own as they add a visual to the story of quidditch. For World Cup VI in Kissimmee, our logo ended up being posted in a LARGE format at the entrance to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and our entire team freaked out! After World Cup VII, someone tagged me on Facebook with a photo that proved one of our Australian players had gotten the logo TATTOOED on her body! And at World Cup 8, the entire staff lost their minds when we saw our logo at the beginning of our Snapchat story for the entire world to see. I love being able to watch quidditch grow and see the efforts of our creativity truly paying off.”

From Eric Andres

“Conceptualizing and creating the QuidCon 2013 logo was an interesting learning experience, as I had (and still have) very little design experience. But, sometimes things just aesthetically click in your head and you have artistically inclined friends close by to help! I think it’s a good sign that I no longer see the logo as a representation of my design, but as a reminder of what a successful and memorable event it was.”

Quidditch Turns Ten Coffee Table Book

This limited edition, commemorative coffee table book chronicles the rise of quidditch from the perspective of the organizers, players, and photographers who have shaped the sport into what it is today. Quidditch Turns Ten is a hardcover, 10x13 inch 124-page full-color book, with gold foil on the cover and thick interior pages.